" . . .The majority were men who, like himself, thrown there by some accident, had remained as officers of country ships. They had now a horror of the home service, with its harder conditions, severer view of duty, and the hazard of stormy oceans. They were attuned to the eternal peace of Eastern sky and sea. They loved short passages, good deck-chairs, large native crews, and the distinction of being white. They shuddered at the thought of hard work, and led precariously easy lives, always on the verge of dismissal, always on the verge of engagement . . . They talked everlastingly of turns of luck: how So-and-so got charge of a boat on the coast of China — a soft thing; how this one had an easy billet in Japan somewhere, and that one was doing well in the Siamese navy; and in all they said — in their actions, in their looks, in their persons — could be detected the soft spot, the place of decay, the determination to lounge safely through existence. To Jim that gossiping crowd, viewed as seamen, seemed at first more unsubstantial than so many shadows. But at length he found a fascination in the sight of those men, in their appearance of doing so well on such a small allowance of danger and toil. In time, beside the original disdain there grew up slowly another sentiment . . . " - Joseph Conrad, Lord JimI had read Heart Of Darkness whilst still in university and found it to be terribly over-hyped and somewhat unreadable, but when I read Lord Jim in 2004 whilst in Nanjing I felt immediately that here was a book written by someone who, whilst he was a creature of his time, understood what it was both to be a young man and to be an expat. Lord Jim is still one of my favourite books, even if I have not yet warmed to Conrad's other works.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Posted by Gilman Grundy at 05:55